Clicky

Acer Nitro 5 laptop review

Acer Nitro 5

£1010
8.2

Build quality

8.0/10

Design

8.5/10

Ease of use

8.5/10

Performace

8.0/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Understated looks (for a gamer)
  • Good power and speed
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Reasonably light and thin
  • Great storage + SSD

Cons

  • Keys just ok for gaming - great for typing
  • Screen a little lacklustre

Nitro5 reviewYou may have seen my Acer Nitro 5 hands-on video that I took whilst being taken on a rickshaw tour of London. Well, I took that laptop home and have been using since. It is now review time.

As with any product, it is easy to get the specs if money is no object. £1200 iPhone? No problem. £200,000 turntable? Sure. £9000 gaming laptop? Sold.

However, it’s the mid-range where the truly interesting things happen. How much can a company offer when working to a tight budget? That is where the real skill is.

We all realise that there will be compromises to be made on the way, but then it is the choices that the brands make that will win or lose our money.

The Acer Nitro 5 series starts under £900. Whilst that might not be impulse buy territory, it still undercuts many other portable gamers.

New Nitro 5 unleashed at CES 2018

The one left with me packs an Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics chip, an Intel Core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. Not only that, it sports looks that will work for gamers as well as coffee shop surfers.

Acer Nitro 5 design

The black and red looks already tip a wink to its gaming potential. However, everything is much more subtle than the Predator range.

nitro 5 openThe lid is finished in brushed metal, and the hinges are treated to a good-looking shade of dark red.

The gamer red continues to the keyboard and trackpad too.

The Nitro is also lighter than the Predator we had in not so long ago.  This laptop tips the scales at 2.7kg and it’s 27mm thick from top to bottom.

nitro 5 rightYou get 2 USB 2.0 and a headphone port on the right.

nitro 5 leftWhilst, over on the left, is a USB 3.0 and a USB 3.1 Type-C port. There is also HDMI and Ethernet, along with a card reader.

A couple of small panels on the base can be used to access the hard disk and memory slots. Unfortunately, if you wanted to upgrade the SSD (solid state drive), that’s a more involved task.

It is a good looking lappy. It’s light enough to be taken everywhere too, which is something that the Predator and other full gamers have to compromise on.

Acer Nitro 5 performance

The model I have been allowed to live with for a while is the 515-51-71SG, to give it its full title.

nitro 5 left angleThis is loaded with the Intel Core i7 which has four Hyper-Threaded cores and a 2.8GHz speed. It’s very nice.

Mated to this is 8GB of DDR4 RAM. Also nice.

nitro 5 right angleImages are pushed through the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 mobile core that’s buddied with 4GB of dedicated memory.

Rounding things up is a 128GB SSD boot drive and 1TB of Serial ATA storage.

As you can see, this ain’t too shabby for what was handed to me as a “casual gamer”.

Keyboard and trackpad

The Nitro 5 has a decent keyboard for its primary purpose.

nitro 5 keyboardThe tile style keys have quite a soft finish and medium travel. This means that rattling off reviews, emails and social updates are comfortable, even over long periods.

However, those that are more familiar with a mechanical board on your PC might find the Nitro’s slightly dissatisfying. Again, this is supposed to be more of a casual gamer and work tool, rather than an out-and-out fragging machine.

The good news here though is that the keys are very quiet. This not only means no glares from people sat in a quiet cafe but, also, you don’t have to leave the living room when you suddenly get the urge to kill zombies while your other half watches Naked Attraction.

Lights

The Nitro 5 keyboard is backlit in red, continuing the theme.

The WASD keys are further highlighted in red around the edges. These do not feel to be reinforced in any way, however.

If you tend to use the cursor buttons in-game then be warned. The ones here are quite narrow.

Also, the Enter button, at first glance looks like the full deal. Then you realise that it shares space with the Hash key. The same goes for the left-shift button that bunks up with the left-slash key.

Just things to be aware of in case you accidentally hit the wrong key mid-game.

Trackpad

Again, the trackpad is in that tricky halfway house. For a business or student user, all is great. It is responsive and the in-built buttons are soft.

It has the same overall feel as the rest of the board. At least most gamers will utilise a mouse so the friendly trackpad won’t cause them much grief.

Display

The Nitro 5 boasts a 1080p 15.6-inch IPS panel.

That is impressive for a range in this price bracket.

However, don’t be expecting G-Sync to be linked with the Nvidia graphics.

As I trundled along in the rickshaw, I thought it was the strong sunlight (ah, the memories) that were washing out the colours, but the same can be said when indoors.

[youtube id=”95_YMuRepBs”]

The colours and contrast aren’t hideous, far from it. It is just that they’re not as vivid as I would expect from an IPS panel.

Once more, using the Nitro for work-based tasks and for socials, the screen is plenty good enough. Additionally, thanks to what Acer calls ComfyView, working on that presentation til the small hours won’t wreck your eyes that much.

It is just when gaming or trying to edit photos, you might notice a lack of warmth, especially in skin tones. This didn’t affect my taking out terrorists, zombies or cars, but more something I need to report on. It is my duty, after all.

Gaming

Casual or not, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t put the Nitro 5 through a bit of gaming action.

The Nvidia GTX 1050 will happily play most Triple-A games at high or even very high graphics settings on the Nitro’s 1080p screen.

nitro 5 endCS:GO ran really well without any noticeable lag. Mouse response was translated to the screen accurately and I didn’t find much issue with the keyboard. I just prefer a more mechanical feel.

Doom is much more taxing and, in order to keep things sprinting along, I had to dial down a couple of things. Still an enjoyably fluid experience, mind.

Keeping cool

I was impressed by at how quiet and cool the Nitro 5 stayed, even when gaming.

Furthermore, this goes for the internals as well as the exterior.

Battery life

The Acer Nitro 5’s 4-cell Li-Polymer battery is a 3220 mAh number. The spec sheet says that this has legs for a maximum of 7 hours.

From my experience, during mixed use including gaming, I was averaging around 4 hours. Decent stamina and this is obviously an area where Acer went for keeping the weight down rather than giving it a hefty battery.

Speakers

After hearing the Predator I was expecting something along those lines. This was not to be.

The Nitro 5’s audio output is fairly standard laptop fair. Bass is quite light and the mids slightly flat. However, if you’re using the quiet keys to sneak in some gaming, you’ll most likely be wearing headphones anyhow.

Acer Nitro 5 review conclusion

The Acer has enough pace to handle games, Office work and most other general tasks you choose to throw at it.

If you are looking for a wholly performance package, then there is room for improvement.

That said, the graphics card and RAM really help things along. The Nitro 5 remained composed through gaming sessions.

acer rickshawsIt is also nice to work on. I happily caught up on emails and drafted reviews on the Nitro. Sometimes the serious gaming machines can feel a bit cumbersome when tackling more mundane tasks.

And that’s where the Nitro 5 has its strength. If you approach it as a good-looking, general purpose laptop with gaming skills, then this little Acer is an Ace.

Acer Nitro 5 price and availability

You can buy the Nitro 5 right now. Prices start at £849.99 for a model fitted with a Core i5 2.50 GHz chip, 8GB RAM, 1TB storage and a GeForce GTX 1050.

The model with the same spec as reviewed comes in at £999.99. If you want the one packing 1050 Ti graphics, that will cost you £1099.99.

Acer Nitro 5 laptop review

by Jay Garrett time to read: 5 min
1